The title of Chapter 9 refers to the belief by the mages that multiple tales somehow come together to paint a larger picture of truth for Elisa and her brothers. The story that Chapter 9 explains as Elisa’s is a seeming combination of Andersen’s Wild Swans and Grimm’s Six Swans. Water plays a key role in only the Andersen story and the fairy who has special knowledge of the cure for the curse is also unique to Andersen’s version.
Andersen’s version is the far more magical and interesting. He invokes the belief that her tale is highly epic — and he often spends time talking in-depth about the scenery Elisa sees from the net she is carried in while her brothers fly in the sky. He even suggests that two female characters who lend help to Elisa are the one and the same, pointing out some greater hand of fate playing with her.
Andersen uses both an old woman and a fairy to guide Elisa. (In the Grimm version you see the brothers tell their sister what must be done.)
A fairy also appears in another story of his — “The Garden of Paradise.”
This fairy has the other characteristics that Elisa has been provided. Namely the fairy of the garden is a beautiful woman who has been secluded in a sacred place. Her house holds a special glass window that allowed her to see time. Andersen’s garden is truly the Garden of Paradise of biblical origins. He speaks of it having the properties of eternal youth; and exile from it means death. In “THe Garden of Paradise,” however, the prince is banished for yielding to temptation within the garden is afforded some mercy. His death is delayed.
In her case,Elisa’s garden does not seem so forbidden or exile so gloomy. She has no house with magic windows showing all snapshots of time but she has water and the reflection it provides at her bidding — a mirror or window in itself.
This is the other “tale” with which Elisa’s story collides and one she attempts to, without understanding what is happening, reject.
* * *
The appearance of a lion in the middle of some palace garden is intentional. Where it came from, no one knows.
When Elisa entered the dowager’s gardens she had been instructed to interact with it. Vincens, himself, also touches the lion statue later that same evening.
The lion I suppose is always affiliated with some initiation of magic… and I suppose in my own explorations of the relationships between magic’s users, that lion is always at-hand observing those shifts in relationships between those the creature considers its kind.
The elven king wishes for a queen with magic. In that sense, there is a parallel almost a millenia later when Wolfram and Selva are paired because of their magic. But Vincens’ motivation for wanting a partner is very clear — he wants to bring back (a powerful) magic with a partner. Wolfram relented to the offering of Selva for his clan’s sake.
If we are to draw other contrasts — the Wolframs have the lions assisting them and helping protect their lair. Fairies seemingly hover near the elves — but they are mostly nameless and interchangeable to the elves. The elf/fairy relationship seems far worse than the wolves/lions relationship overall.
Azul and Vincens are interesting contrasts. In spite of his wishes to have been more circumspect, Azul admits everything. His grandfather, very little.
Azul’s motivations for wanting to seek Elisa’s hand are explained — he sees opportunity presenting itself (a hint at some other succession game?) and he also believes he has to do something to address some troublesome aspect of Elisa’s fate. What he knows or learned we do not yet know. It will be hard to convince him to yield that information to us — at least for now. But largely I feel he is far more compassionate in his position than his grandfather. Or it may be simply that his grandfather is a far better politician than Azul.